Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Feed My Birds

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

The late Elizabeth McFarland was for many years a summer resident of Cape Rosier, Harborside. In her lovely lyric, she invites the reader to feed her birds – except for the one with the plaintive song.

Feed My Birds by Elizabeth McFarland

Feed my birds,
But not the whitethroat in his cage of air!
Feed robin, hawk,
The attendant flock
Of rooftree birds, and birds of prey or prayer;
But not the lost love calling, calling there.
At that wild voice
Trees touch their tips together and rejoice,
Rising full-leaved through waterfalls of sound.
That evergreen lament
Beyond all words has sent
Touch as soft as moss on woodland limbs unbound.
O feed them, scatter seed upon the ground!
Feed homing dove and jay,
Chickadees in black beret,
Feed simple starling, thrush, and small-shawled wren;
But sparrow, the white-throated one,
Feed not again!

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 1984 by Elizabeth McFarland. Reprinted from Over the Summer Water, Orchises Press, 2008, by permission of Daniel G. Hoffman, Trustee, Estate of Elizabeth McFarland Hoffman. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to David Turner, Special Assistant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at poetlaureate@mainewriters.org or 207-228-8263.